How did you originally get into making invitations?
I started by making upcycled greeting cards and then one day just decided to list a save-the-date card. It was surprisingly popular, and I soon discovered that selling wedding items was the way to go.
Tell us about your previous working situation and how you discovered Etsy.
Right out of college, I was working in the grocery advertising industry. My job was nowhere near ideal or creative in any way, but I tried to consider myself lucky to have a job at all. I was introduced to Etsy by a friend and I was immediately hooked. Etsy was my outlet; I’d come home from work, make cards and photograph them. I began thinking that maybe I had a future in this. It was exciting, and scary at the same time.
What are your best marketing tips?
- Branding is SO important, especially for folks who sell their wares on the Internet. It helps give your customers a sense of who you are and your style — something they don’t really see because they aren’t physically in your store.
- Second is a no-brainer: take good photos and if you are willing to go the extra mile, invest in a nice camera.
Your invitations were featured in a national bridal magazine. What did you learn from being featured and has anything changed for you since?
I’ve learned that it doesn’t get you as many sales as you think it will. However, it still feels GREAT for the ego. I think having national exposure has opened up other opportunities for me which is always a good thing.
What’s been your most popular item or line to date?
Most recently, my ticket save-the-date has been extremely popular. I used to receive non-stop orders for my floral invitations. I recently stopped selling it because the demand slowly dropped off. The wedding industry changes quickly!
What was your most memorable custom request?
I am currently working on a design for a couple whose names are the same as a toilet valve: Regal and Sloan. I kid you not, they asked me to create a design that looked like the toilet valve. The final product actually looks very pretty, and you would never be able to tell it’s part of a toilet. It’s sort of become their inside joke.
Do your customers ever send you photos from their events post purchase?
Yes! It is one of my favorite things about being involved in the wedding business. I try and post the photos from real weddings on my blog every now and then. I have seen some pretty amazing things and it feels great to be a part of such beautiful moments.
Have you made any business mistakes you regret?
To date, I have not spent much money on promotion. I do regret not getting my ducks in a row earlier in the game (referring to taxes and legal stuff), but I never expected to be this successful.
What is the biggest challenge you face during your daily schedule?
Learning to slow down. I spent so long working two jobs that I was always rushing to get things done. Now that I have 40 hours a week to dedicate to my business, I still rush around like a chicken with my head cut off. Even as I answer these interview questions, I can feel myself thinking about the next thing on my to do list.
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
I’m an introvert by nature, so sometimes it can be tough to break out of my shell and market myself to strangers or network with others in the industry. It’s still something I need to work on.
What advice would you give yourself or someone considering a similar path knowing what you know now?
Don’t sell yourself short. It’s really tough to not be discouraged by your competitors who are more talented or successful than you. Do your own thing and don’t do something just because it’s what everyone else is doing.
What goals do you have in store for the future of Cheerupcherup?
I keep hearing that successful business owners set goals, but I just don’t like doing it. Of course I have dreams of having my own brick and mortar store, but that is a long way off. I also think it might be fun to start a wedding website just for Ohio or Midwest brides, since the resources in this area of the country are much more limited than in California or New York.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Just my absolute gratefulness to Etsy for giving me the tools and exposure to do what I love. It’s sort of cheesy but it is 100% true: without Etsy, I would not be working in my pajamas today.
Thanks for sharing your story, Alaina. Check out her work in the Seller’s Items below.
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